What are we looking for these days? So much time spent at home, with family, in quarantine 2020. I don’t know about you, but some days feel completely relaxing, and then you get to a point. All the days….feel….the same. In the same house, with the same people, using the same computer, staring at the same phone. There are chores to do, then phone time, watch TV, talk with family, more phone time, watch more TV. Each day runs into the next, but nothing feels exciting anymore. It all feels so boring.
Teen: Ok, so what am I supposed to do about this lack of excitement? Sure, actually going to school may have been (in some ways) more stressful, but some of that was my stress-fueled drive to get things done, to keep moving. Maybe it was too fast, but now it all feels so….slow. So now what?
Therapist: Where’s the passion, the drive, the motivation? Motivation is a key factor in change. Things don’t progress without it. Nothing gets done. No wonder you feel stuck.
Teen: I am trying to get unstuck. Hoping to feel excited again. I just want to have something to look forward to. Last spring, all the school and end of the year activities were canceled. No proms, trips, graduations. Then, there was the summer trip to Disneyland. That didn’t happen. And now we are doing online school, or going back for half-days. Less freedom, and less time spent with friends.
Each day feels exactly the same, I think I’m slowly starting to sink into a depression. There used to be more routine, to get work done, to meet family responsibilities, to hang out with friends. And no, I don’t really have friends, or all my friends are in quarantine and can’t hang out. Like me. We text. What’s going on? Nothing much. The conversation ends there.
I don’t really feel anything, I don’t feel any excitement or passion. How do I feel SOMETHING again?
Therapist: Great question. Let’s talk about how to do something more meaningful with your time. Your time is a gift, and you have it, now. Remember when you used to feel so anxious before? Now let’s try to look at it from a different perspective. You have a gift of TIME. So use it. There’s still school work to do, yes. But there won’t be for long. Let’s try to make the most of it.
I’m not trying to be “Suzy Sunshine” here. I understand it is tough. You can’t go to concerts, or baseball games, amusement parks or county fairs. It’s so hard to have such limited time with friends. I get it. I’m just suggesting that since we must radically accept this situation as it is, we should get creative.
Do you have more time to read your favorite book? To make that music video you’ve been talking about? Time to play Animal Crossing? Time to make jewelry, or to paint? Go for a walk and get out in nature? Write in your journal? Meditate under your favorite tree?
Sometimes being alone is refreshing, it can give you time to think. Maybe there wasn’t so much time to think before, to make plans, or to dream. Maybe you can even begin to relax, without the interference of those anxious thoughts.
Teen: Yes, all that sounds good, but I still feel lonely. I miss my friends. How do I enjoy doing all these activities on my own?
Therapist: I hear you. Loneliness can lead to sadness over time. You need that support. Invite your friends on a virtual walk together, walk and talk through video chat. Send each other old fashioned letters. Write a story, and have the other person continue it, send it back and forth until it’s finished. Read the same book with friends then chat about it. Remember our idea that time is a gift, and we are trying to make the most of it.
Teen: Ok, I’m starting to see this time is a gift thing. I was so busy before there was never enough time. That’s why I was so anxious. I felt I couldn’t get anything done. But now I can. And I can also sit and relax. I couldn’t do that before. I still get anxious about everything that is going on in the world right now though….
Therapist: Remember to stay focused only on the things you can control. So much is out of your control right now. Let these things go. Focus on what you can do about the small things. What can you do to stay safe, to protect yourself and your family? That’s all you can do.
Teen: Alright. I will focus on what I am doing. I will stop looking at my newsfeed every day. I will talk to people I trust when I feel scared and worried. I will keep making plans for my future.
Therapist: Good. And thank you for sharing. Many teens like you are feeling the same way. I know what you have shared can make a difference. And remember, it’s normal to feel this way. Kick that depressed mind to the curb. Let’s get out of the “stuck” ness.